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Trauma-informed spaces proven to benefit recovery

Decades of research with proven results now dictate architecture and interior design in the health care sector. Improved patient outcomes are a scientific fact. Enter evidence-based design. The emergence of evidence-based design into therapeutic spaces will further enhance positive client outcomes.

Integrating restorative, healing and trauma-informed design principles is key in creating a supportive space for recovery.

There exists a dire need to recognize the powerful influence of our surroundings on mental health. This is profoundly relevant to our vulnerable populations. Restoring dignity to those in crisis is fundamental in restoring and supporting their basic needs. This is a tool that is as of yet widely underutilized.

A human-centric approach to design has become a huge focus in the design industry. Creating spaces that genuinely serve its users in a holistic way is becoming a new way of thinking and reimaging existing spaces.

To create a trauma-informed space, we must first provide safety. Sounds easy right? Not really. For someone that has experienced trauma, there is a multitude of environmental factors that contribute to actually feeling safe.

There are many silent triggers that induce anxiety and perceptions that reinforce stigma, worthlessness, feeling unsafe, and that ultimately hinder the client in fully engaging in the recovery process.

The application of evidence-based design sounds like it will be expensive - right?! It's all relative. While a generous budget is always "more is more", there are also so many ways to achieve results on a smaller budget because that is the reality for many service providers.

Understanding how our built environments impact mood, behaviour and mental health is critical in how we can change those spaces. Equally important are the ways in which we support those giving care. If you are tasked with supporting vulnerable populations on a daily basis, your emotional wellbeing is equally vital. Self-care is an imperative part of this game. STS (secondary traumatic stress) is a very real thing. Emotional wellness has taken on even greater importance as we navigate our pandemic world. We must support the front line.

My hope is that I have given you something to think about. My hope is that you will reach out to me to learn more about how you can find ways to support your clients and yourself in efforts to provide meaningful change.

I always welcome your comments and questions. Still sitting here - at home - isolated - ugh.

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